‘Mental health barrier’ preventing young people from volunteering, report finds

20 Sep 2022 News

Many young people are being blocked from volunteering due to concerns over their mental health, a government-commissioned report has found.

The Institute for Community Studies’ rapid evidence review found that 11-to-30-year-olds faced a “triple burden” when trying to balance volunteering with their work, family life and mental health.

More than one in five regular volunteers that responded to the research said they had experienced burnout, while even those that did not frequently volunteer reported that their awareness of social issues and feelings of helplessness acted as a barrier.

Young people also reported feeling guilty when they felt unable to volunteer due to feeling overwhelmed by other factors in their life.

“The effects of global and national events on young people’s confidence and emotional security – particularly in the older, post 18 years age groups – were striking,” the report said.

“In total, 17 of the young people we spoke to across both methods referred to mental health as a factor affecting their engagement in volunteering. This was referenced across all life stages, with the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbating impact for many.”

But the study, commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), reported that data around the mental health of young volunteers indicates there are potential health and wellbeing benefits associated with volunteering in terms of their individual and social development.

Researchers said there is a need to introduce “wider structures of support, including mental health services and mentoring” for young volunteers, particularly for those aged over 16.

It said the mentoring could involve negative experiences being counteracted and positive experiences shared as inspiration.

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